Thaipat Institute

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Momentum still good despite poor economy

Pornnalat Prachyakorn

Around 47% of Bangkok companies will expand their CSR activities this year and 42% will maintain their current commitment, despite the downturn, according to a 2009 CSR survey by the Thaipat Institute.

The survey of about 200 companies in February found that only 10% would reduce their corporate social responsibility commitment this year, although 21% intend to cut back their CSR budget.

About 46% of respondents said they would maintain their CSR budgets this year while 32% will increase spending.

Around 78% of the respondents are in the private sector, although their types of businesses were not indicated.

Thaipat Institute director Pipat Yodprudtikan said the institute had also surveyed more than 70 businesses in 54 Thai provinces and found the leading CSR focus to be education (picked by 35%), followed by the environment (29%), society (23%) and the economy (12%).

In Bangkok, the main CSR interests for businesses this year are society (37%) and the environment (36%). Education was chosen by 19% and economy by only 5% of respondents.

Over half of companies in Bangkok have yet to consider conducting a CSR or sustainability report. However, 26% said they are in the process of launching reports this year and 20% have already completed reports.

The institute hopes to launch its second CSR Campus programme in May, depending on the political situation.

"We want to focus on providing CSR 'how-to' to local businesses this year, instead of basic information like last year. Most local businesses now want to learn how to carry out CSR as part of an organisation's activity, not just a separate programme," Dr Pipat said.

Dr Pipat added that many businesses still see CSR as a business competition strategy, which he described as a complete misunderstanding.

"CSR isn't about competition. It's like a collaboration between the public and private sectors to help improve society together," he said.

The CSR Campus was initiated last year to raise awareness and provide knowledge about CSR among business operators as well as to brainstorm and exchange CSR activities among 4,000 participants across the country.

The Thaipat Institute has compiled information into four books covering North, Northeast, South and Central Thailand. Each details a region's CSR projects and themes.

The main CSR themes in the North are art, culture and the environment, including the promotion of eco-tourism. The Northeast pays attention to employment and developing manufacturing sites. The South is concerned with environment issues such as solid waste and waste water. The Central region focuses on society and the environment, including consumption safety and toxin-free agriculture.

Provincial CSR themes include the trend in Nan to encourage the use of bicycles to preserve the environment. In Samut Sakhon, themes include mangrove reforestation, tackling drug problems and managing motorcycle taxis. In Amnat Charoen, water resources development is a major concern while Narathiwat is building a career opportunity programme.

The book series can be obtained free of charge at CAT (02-104-3508), Total Access Communication's CSR Office (02-202-8000) and Toyota Motor Thailand's social contribution office (02-386-1393-5)

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